“Anyone can say something beautiful in the moment. Anyone can deliver the right line. But that’s not real. That doesn’t prove anything. What matters is what a person is really like. What matters is what a person is prepared to reveal to you in real time in the real world, when there is no soundtrack in the background and no games going on.”
– LEONARD AND HUNGRY PAUL
[ About the Book ]
Leonard and Hungry Paul are two quiet friends who see the world differently. They use humour, board games and silence to steer their way through the maelstrom that is the 21st century.
‘The figure in Munch’s painting isn’t actually screaming!’ Hungry Paul said. ‘Really, are you sure?’ Replied Leonard. ‘Absolutely. That’s the whole thing. The figure is actually closing his ears to block outa scream. Isn’t that amazing? A painting can be so misunderstood and still become so famous.’
LEONARD AND HUNGRY PAUL is the story of two friends trying to find their place in the world. It is about those uncelebrated people who have the ability to change the world, not by effort or force, but through their appreciation of all that is special and overlooked in life.
[ My Review ]
LEONARD AND HUNGRY PAUL by Rónán Hession was published March 20th 2019 with Bluemoose Books. It is a book that only came to my attention in recent weeks and is one that I really cannot recommend enough to all. Packed with inspirational quotes, LEONARD AND HUNGRY PAUL is quite a low-key, understated debut that packs a serious punch. It is a book that has been garnering great praise from many quarters, placing Rónán Hession up there as one-to-watch.
It was chosen as the BBC Radio 2 Book Club Choice (March 2019), short listed for The British Book Awards 2020, The Society of Authors McKitterick Prize 2020 and Short listed for The Kerry Group Irish Novel of the year 2020. It was also shortlisted in the new writer category for the An Post Irish Book Awards 2019 and most recently shortlisted for the Dalkey Literary Awards, in the emerging writer category. Due to the current climate The Dalkey Literary Awards will now take place on June 20th with a digital awards ceremony.
LEONARD AND HUNGRY PAUL is a very special book, a book that needs to be savoured and read at a very gentle pace. With two gorgeously depicted characters, Rónán Hession has created a book that stays in the mind of all who read it for long after it’s finished and is most definitely one to be revisited in the future.
Leonard and Hungry Paul are two friends, both never straying too far from home. Leonard’s mother has very recently passed away and he is trying to come to terms with his grief. Left rattling around an empty house causes him much pain, so he invariably calls over to visit his buddy, Hungry Paul, to play a board game.
Hungry Paul still lives with his parents, the thought of moving out never really in his sights. Why should he? He sees no reason to move just for the sake of it and his parents are happy to have his company. Hungry Paul lives a very uncomplicated life and his needs are very few. He has little to say, preferring silence but when he does speak, his words are measured, simple, yet carry a great weight.
” This is my home. I live here. They are my family. I love them. I love you too…This isn’t a business relationship. It’s not a transaction. I spend my days with them. I am here whenever Mum wants a little company. I help her with stuff and we chat about this and that. I sit with Dad when he’s reading, and we watch TV together and talk about it afterwards. Nobody keeps count and nobody keeps score”
– Hungry Paul speaking to Grace his sister
Leonard works with children’s’ encyclopedias writing pieces under the instruction of the author, but Leonard has his own views of what children like to read and has ambitions to write a book. He is a bit of a loner, a life choice that had always suited him but now with his mother’s death Leonard is rethinking his life. His mother was a huge influence and his companion. She championed his imagination and encouraged him to follow his own path. But now he is lost, directionless…
‘In the weeks since his mother had passed on, Leonard had noticed a distinct shrinking of his own personal universe. His evenings were less occupied, his social options had become more limited, and his mind seemed diverted inwards towards a vague, dreamy melancholy’
Leonard and Hungry Paul have a very complimentary friendship. They value each other’s words and they make time for each other, both understanding the importance of their relationship, but the sands are shifting a little and changes, however small, are coming.
Rónán Hession sensitively explores the solidarity between these two wise friends. Their conversations are simple yet quite profound, at times feeling like life lessons for us all to abide by. We all live chaotic lives but sometimes it can be enough to just be, to just sit and listen to the passing sounds.
‘Making big decisions was just as consequential as not making them. Either way you were committing to something. We are never entirely outside of life’s choices; everything leads somewhere’
LEONARD AND HUNGRY PAUL is an uplifting and charming read. Packed with poignant statements that carry very strong messages, this really is a little gem of a book. A book about the importance of friendship, about being kind to one another at very little cost, LEONARD AND HUNGRY PAUL features two very understated main protagonists, two individuals that can teach us all so much.
LEONARD AND HUNGRY PAUL is a life-affirming read, an affecting and philosophical debut, with an engaging style that captivates and charms the reader. A wonderful, wonderful book!
“Maybe it’s not just the universe that expands and contracts. Perhaps the same applies to us – you know, that as we get older, our lives start shrinking. …There is this palpable sense of physics; that my life is being pulled inwards. One thing has led to another and now I feel that if I don’t do something, I’ll just carry on some minor harmless existence”
– Leonard to Hungry Paul
[ Bio ]
Ronan Hession lives in Dublin with his partner and two children. His band Mumblin Def Ro was short listed for The CHOICE MUSIC awards.
LEONARD AND HUNGRY PAUL is his debut novel
Twitter ~ @MumblinDeafRo